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A Faux ‘Pasta’: Steer Clear of These 5 Mistakes When Making Pasta!

Often, just cooking pasta out of a packet can be difficult for some people. Here are five mistakes you must avoid!

Updated
Food
4 min read
How many times have you ‘attempted’ pasta but ended up with a squishy-squashy lump of dough?
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Who doesn’t like pasta? It’s the perfect comfort food to come home to – after a hard day of work and an hour of tramping through monsoon traffic.

But, here’s the thing. How many times have you ‘attempted’ pasta but ended up with a squishy-squashy lump of dough that very remotely resembles a pasta? Pasta is a dish that looks super easy to make but can be really tough to get right. Often, even just cooking pasta out of a packet can be difficult for some people.

So if you haven’t got your pasta right so far, here are five common mistakes you must avoid.

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1. Don’t be Stingy About the Salt

Mixing salt to pasta water helps season both the pasta and the water.
Mixing salt to pasta water helps season both the pasta and the water.
(Photo: iStock)

If you've been skimping on salting the water in which pasta is cooked, then there is a fair chance your pasta will turn out bland. Mixing salt to pasta water helps season both the pasta and the water. The salt also helps prevent the pasta from getting slimy and overly starchy.

Says Chef Paul Kinny:

Adding salt to water while cooking pasta is an irreplaceable process as any salt added after this won’t enhance the taste of the pasta as much.

Suffice to say that the next time you cook pasta, make sure to add at least a spoonful of salt to the pot of water you are cooking it in – just as the water begins to boil.

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2. Don’t Use a Pot That’s Too Small

Another common mistake pasta amateurs make is cramming too much pasta in too little water – or, stuffing the pasta in a pot that is not big enough. This leads to pasta sticking together and becoming gummy and starchy.

Another common mistake pasta amateurs make is cramming too much pasta in too little water.
Another common mistake pasta amateurs make is cramming too much pasta in too little water.
(Photo: iStock)

If the quantity of water added is too little, it’ll bring down the temperature of the water – thus taking it doubly long to cook the pasta. This is a shame since pasta doesn’t actually take too long to cook.

It is important to note that pasta should not be over cooked or under cooked. This will result in pasta that is al dente.
Chef Anirban Dasgupta

So make sure you’ve got more water in there than your pasta.

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3. Don’t Wash off the Boiled Pasta

Washing off the cooked pasta will also wash off the starch and salt and make it flavourless and bland.
Washing off the cooked pasta will also wash off the starch and salt and make it flavourless and bland.
(Photo: iStock)

Most of us have been guilty of doing this every time we cook pasta. Washing off the cooked pasta will also wash off the starch and salt and make it flavourless and bland. The starch in the pasta supplements the sauce you’ll be adding later. So make sure to just drain the pasta in a colander and splash a little oil on to it.

According to chef Paul Kinny:

If we don’t oil the pasta, the strands will stick to each other and break in the pan.
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4. Don’t Throw Away That Starchy Water

Once your pasta’s boiled, strain it in a colander and place it over a pot so that the pasta water is saved.
Once your pasta’s boiled, strain it in a colander and place it over a pot so that the pasta water is saved.
(Photo: iStock)

You know how we said it’s okay to just drain the pasta before cooking it? Sure, but it’s even better when you don’t let all that pasta water escape into your kitchen sink while you’re at it. It makes sense to save the pasta water and use it to cook the pasta in, later.

Once your pasta’s boiled, strain it in a colander and place it over a pot so that the pasta water is saved. This water is well-seasoned and starchy which will help in finishing the sauce well. Says Chef Dasgupta,

The starchy water helps thicken the sauce on its own, making sure the pasta is well imbibed into the sauce.
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5. Don’t Cook the Pasta and the Sauce Separately

Sauces like pesto mix particularly well with pasta.
Sauces like pesto mix particularly well with pasta.
(Photo: iStock)

One common mistake people make is to assemble the pasta and the sauce AFTER you’re done cooking each separately. Big no-no. Cooking pasta in the sauce enhances its flavours; therefore, chefs will generally advise you to cook the pasta al dente (aka pasta that are cooked to be firm to the bite). This can be achieved by allowing the pasta to cook in its own water and your choice of sauce.

Sauces like pesto and carbonara mix particularly well.

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(A freelance food and fashion blogger, Pranjali Bhonde Pethe wants to get people closer to their favourite food and style through her blog, moipalate. Email her at pranjali.bhonde@gmail.com and follow her on @moipalate.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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